Diversity in the workplace is incredibly important. It must, however, reach beyond age, gender, race and cultural background… and include diversity of thought.
People who think in different ways boost innovation, creativity and problem-solving within their companies. Studies show that the more diverse a workplace is, the more success it achieves. As a result, organizations are naturally looking to learn more about not only increasing diversity, but also how to manage it.
One study found that millennials, who will comprise nearly 75% of the workforce by 2025, define diversity as a blending of different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives – or what scientists are calling cognitive diversity. Cognitive diversity is defined as the differences in our thought and problem-solving processes, and millennials tend to view it as a necessary element for innovation.
To promote thought diversity, recruit outside the box. Hire unconventional candidates, leverage your teams’ unique talents, encourage a mix of perspectives and create a culture that is receptive to new ideas.
Diversity of thinking ensures that groups will resist conformity and make better decisions. Companies can spur creativity, insight and efficiency by creating a mix of thinking styles in the workplace. Embracing diversity involves identifying with people who are different from you. It’s important to have a willingness to take other perspectives into account and welcome the traits that make people different, including diversity of thought.
Workplace diversity and inclusion are key drivers of internal innovation because alternative perspectives challenge assumptions and lead to new approaches. Diverse thinkers with varying perspectives and viewpoints are more likely to find solutions to problems than uniform groups of employees.
You can’t hire for diversity and then reward conformity
An Inc. article discusses three ways to embrace diversity of thought in the workplace, including: 1) Hiring Differently; 2) Managing Differently; and 3) Thinking Differently About Promotions.
Companies need to ensure their hiring processes remain in line with recognition and rewards programs. One problem companies are facing is that they hire for diversity but then have a culture that rewards and promotes conformity. Talented people want to work in environments that are diverse and inclusive. Companies can benefit from creating an environment that invites different voices to speak up and be heard, and rewards innovation and unique ideas.
While I appreciate that many people have been taught convention and have ingrained ideas on acceptable norms, I would encourage everyone – and especially leaders – to have open minds and challenge themselves beyond the standard conformity that society promotes when hiring new candidates. There may be a unicorn in that field of horses who could bring a unique, fresh perspective to your company and pay off big. Don’t miss the opportunity… think differently and get a different result that benefits not only your workplace dynamic, but your bottom line as well!